Zero-waste online store undeterred by competition

Ms June Fong, the sole owner of start-up Trove of Gaia, with a range of lifestyle products in her showroom. The showroom, which doubles up as her office, not only allows customers to touch and feel the products, but also allows her to educate her cus
Ms June Fong, the sole owner of start-up Trove of Gaia, with a range of lifestyle products in her showroom. The showroom, which doubles up as her office, not only allows customers to touch and feel the products, but also allows her to educate her customers on sustainability in person.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Newly married in France, Ms June Fong chanced upon a zero-waste store where shoppers bring their own containers to pack their purchases.

The 32-year-old was so taken by the novel sight that she opened online store Trove of Gaia two months later, in September 2017.

Her mission is to inspire customers to lead a zero-waste lifestyle, for which she provides products such as collapsible homeware like cups and bowls, as well as soaps and feminine care items.

She ensures every product is ethically produced as well as sourced from suppliers in South-east Asia to reduce the carbon footprint from shipping.

Although among the early birds in the sustainability scene, she has been buffeted by the strong winds of competition.

Sales have been declining and demand slowing as other players offer more competitive prices.

"Admittedly, my prices are not the cheapest compared with newcomers in the market, but they signal a certain product quality," she said.

Besides encouraging people to treasure their items and use them for the long term, her pricing also "allows me to redirect profits to fund social causes", she added.

Ms Fong donates 10 per cent of her monthly sales revenue to the World Wide Fund for Nature and regularly supports Bye Bye Plastic Bags, an environmental conservation organisation.

 

Despite the uncertain prospects of her business, she is unfazed. "No other job has fulfilled me like this one, so I'm willing to do whatever it takes to keep my business afloat," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2020, with the headline 'Zero-waste online store undeterred by competition'. Subscribe